The Portal of the Elves: Memories from Elsewhere
by Marie Johanne Croteau-Meurois
The characters in The Portal of the Elves: Memories from Elsewhere by Marie Johanne Croteau-Meurois travel between worlds. As the reader, it’s easy to feel much like the characters we’re following, as we peek into a completely formed and detailed magical world. The work follows Gwenedys, a member of the Elven world that appreciates the beauty of her domain while also finding its rules and regulations stifling. The first chapter of the work of gives the reader a top-down explanation of the Elven world and its systems and characters. While the explanation is necessary to set the scene, it’s so densely detailed that not all of the descriptions stick in the reader’s memory. The explanation could have been more successful peppered throughout the tale, instead of an introduction that sometimes drags the plot to a standstill.
The story really starts to sing when the author completes the exposition and begins following Gwenedys as she struggles against the rigidity of her dominion. Her story is a classic one, albeit in a magical, dreamy sort of backdrop—in essence, Gwen is a girl that doesn’t quite fit in and longs to find love and meaning. The novel’s namesake portal brings together the fearless protagonist and the raven-haired human Baldrinn. The star-crossed lovers have a connection that feels organic, deep, and is as sweet and ethereal as the Elven realm. The story ends on a somewhat melancholy note, but it is a well-constructed finale that manages to still be a satisfying close to the tale of the duo. Is the Elven world a dream? Croteau-Meurois doesn’t give an answer. The readers are left to ponder—does it matter?
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